Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Friday, September 30, 2005

Charity Leads To Unemployment

And Possibly Nosebleeds, I'm Still Looking Into That One...

I knew better. I absolutely did. I went ahead and let my good nature get the better of my judgement, though.

When the seedy-looking guy sidled up next to me at the Transit Center last night, and begged for enough cash to get a bus pass, I should have just given him the Evil Eye and walked away. I very rarely give out cash to bums beggars panhandlers Voluntary Urban Outdoorsmen. I donate to various charities through my office, and freely toss money at the needy when the situation warrants it (i.e. Katrina and Rita), but giving out my small change and dollar bills to the guy on the street mostly goes towards propping up the Thunderbird and Night Train sales, and rarely towards what the person says it will pay for.

Now, the times I've been in Chicago, Boston, or NYC, where it's common to have a musician playing in the train stations with his guitar or sax case open for donations, I'll gladly drop in some bux if he/she's halfway decent. They're providing some entertainment in return for my patronage. Beggars in ancient times used to spin tales of mystery and imagination to passersby, in return for enough coins to get them to the next town down the road. Hell, the one time I asked one of the regular bums at the downtown bus station to tell me a good joke in return for my cash, from the reactions of the bum and the other commuters, you'd have thought I'd asked him to drop trou and spread his buttcheeks for my amusement. All I wanted was something other than the same old line about "I just need somethin' to eat..." Dude. The soup kitchen's 5 blocks over, and it's free. We both know this...

So, when this guy last night asked me for whatever I could spare, I thought about it for a couple of seconds, thought about this guy, who almost lost his home, and this guy, who DID lose his home, realized I'm pretty fortunate, and my Grinch-like heart softened up enough to drag out my stash of quarters and give the guy 2 or 3 bux, assuming he would immediately hop on one of the local bus routes out of the Transit Center.

Hah. He walked around for a bit, hitting up people here and there, then... and this is the part that just pisses me off beyond belief... walked right past me AFTER TELLING ME 3 MINUTES EARLIER HE NEEDED BUS FARE!!! hopped the fence, and quickly walked away from the transit center. Last I saw of him, he was heading towards 610 as fast as his legs would carry him. Must've been a licka sto' around the corner, I'm guessing. No, there are no bus stops in that direction. I looked.

So, my faith in human nature crushed once again, I vow never to crack the wallet again for anyone on the street, and head home. You might think it would all end there.

Oh, no, Grasshopper! These things have farther reaching consequences than you can imagine...

I'm heading to work this morning, just in the nick of time to catch the 8:46 into downtown, and I reach the bus stop just as I discover that my wallet (with bus pass and all my cash) is still home sitting on my desk. If I go back for it, I'm gonna be late for work. I won't be able to get back in time for the 9:05 bus, and the next one after that's not arriving until 10:15 or so. I might be really phuct, here.

Wait! I don't need a bus pass! I've got a stash of quarters.... which all got given to a lying bum last night. I AM phuct.

So, a 15 minute drive back to the house, followed by a high-speed run down I-10 to downtown, and I'm pulling into the parking garage at 9:20. I'm never this late... The garage spot is gonna cost me $9, not to mention that $2.80/gal gas expenditure. All for a handful of quarters.

Walking into the building past the Tranquility Park landscape crew, I get a healthy dose of pollen, grass clippings, fungus, and whatever else gets kicked up when they mow and use their air blowers. That sets me to sneezing, and due to the weird weather we've had lately, my sinuses are already on edge. I just sit down to my desk when I have this gigantic sneezing fit that tears a nasal capillary, spraying blood all over my monitor and keyboard (Yum!) Nosebleeds at home suck. Nosebleeds at work are intolerable. Fortunately, the bathroom across the hall is unoccupied for once, and I've got one of the new-fangled EZ-stop kits in my carryall.

So, it's been a hell of a day so far. Yeah, it's ultimately my fault for forgetting the wallet, and I was really in no danger of being fired, but still... there's a bit of evil juju gnawing on my keister today!


It's Finally Released!! Shiny!!!

My long wait is over!

No doubt you've seen quite a few movie reviews of Serenity all over the blogosphere in the past few days. There was a sneak preview for bloggers Wednesday, and all those lucky SOB's got in free AND early! I was a bit too wrapped up with Hurricane Rita to get my reservation made.

At any rate, Serenity is the TV show 'Firefly' brought to the silver screen. You probably blinked and missed 'Firefly', 'cause it only ran one season in 2002 before some corporate ignoramus cancelled it. IMHO, it was one of the best Sci-Fi TV shows ever.

If you need to find me this weekend, just head to your local MovieMegaPlex. I'll be there until they drag me out!

Another Blogger Hangs It Up

And It's A Damned Shame...

Donny of Walrilla's Wonderings has cashed in his chips and stepped away from the blogging table. He was one of Feisty Christina's blog-offspring, IIRC, and one of the first to drop in here regularly.

Sorry to see you leave, dude. You're always welcome back anytime! I hope it's 'cause you got some high-paying gig like our favorite raconteur/rifleman, and had to "lower your profile"!

Best wishes for the future!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Worst. Carnival. Ever.

And I Thought I'd Have Nothing To Blog About Today!

The latest Carnival of the Vanities is up.

I'm sure there are some bloggerific gems tucked away in there, but how you can find them amidst all the dross and excelsior I'll never know. Our intrepid host appears to have cut & pasted directly from the Conservative Cat submittal form, and not even bothered to group them in categories or some other order.

Kee-rist, he even admits he didn't get all the submissions in due to time requirements! How long does a repeated CTRL-C, CTRL-V take?

Yeeks. Bad stuff, Maynard. For an extra giggle, go read Laurence's take on it. He's not quite as restrained as I am!

I'm hosting the Carnival of the Vanities at the end of October. I'll endeavour to put just a bit more effort into it...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One More Tale From The Transit Center

Relax, It's A Short One!

The past couple of evenings I've been hanging out at the bus stop after I get off the bus in the evenings, sometimes for up to 15 minutes before walking out to my car.

Why? I'm waiting for this woman to stand up.

It's the damnedest thing I've seen in ages, and I'm not sure exactly why it interests me to this degree. It's surely not the woman's physical attributes. She's one of those lanky, malnourished hippie types, with a perpetual scowl and usually carrying a copy of some book that's Profound and Meaningful. Also, she's got thighs that have a space daylight shines through when her legs are together. Ick. Too bony for me!

She does, however, have a flexibility that piques my interest. The first time I noticed her, she was sitting cross-legged by a route schedule display reading a book. Being a bibliophile myself, I was attempting to get a peek at the title, when her bus arrived. In one smooth motion, she went from sitting crosslegged to standing. No handhold for support, no getting up on one knee, just butt on the ground to butt in the air, still holding the book open in front of her.

I must have replayed that move in my mind a couple of hundred times, trying to figure out the mechanics of it. FSM knows that if I tried that, I'd have both femurs injected into my abdominal cavity, and the knee joint explosions would have scattered bone and cartilage over a 4 block radius.

I couldn't quite figure it out, so I camped out the next evening seeing if she showed up. Yep, she sure did. Repeated the procedure, and I'm still flummoxed.

Personally, I think she's got an anti-gravity module wedged in her asscheeks. It's the only way I can explain how she does it.

More Tales From The Transit Center

I Needed My Camera Today...

I've seen some pretty odd things at the METRO transit center where I catch the commuter bus into downtown, but nothing like the spectacle this morning.

I'm waiting for the 216 to show up, and as usual, it's caught in traffic, so I've got time to kill. I keep a paperback in my carryall for such delays, but peoplewatching is usually far more entertaining. You get some serious characters at the transit centers. If you go further out to the Park & Rides, everyone's basically a well-to-do commuter, or the odd college student going to U. of H. In other words, boring. The cross-section of humanity and the constant bustle of activity at the regional transit centers is always more appealing to me.

The station across the way from my waiting area is for the 40 Pecore route. I've got no idea where it goes, and in fact, have no clue where the Pecore street it's named for is located. Houston's pretty big, after all. I DO know that that particular bus route offloads a more scrofulous variety of passengers than any other route I've seen.

This morning, I was treated to a ragged pair exiting the bus. I assume they were father and son, judging from the matching Grizzly Adams beards both wore. The son was in his early 40's and after helping the older man to the bench, proceeded to wander aimlessly, chain-smoking Winstons.

The older of the bearded duo had to be at least 175 years old. He walked with a cane, had old blue sweat pants and a ragged Tshirt, covered by a plaid jacket and topped with a long-brimmed fishing cap. He looked like a withered old version of Ernest Hemingway with his white hair & beard.

I didn't pay them much notice after that, until Beard the Elder stood, and wedged himself into the corner of the shelter. I couldn't figure out what he was up to, until I saw the puddle emerging around his feet. Ewwww. I now know why the transit center smells like pee on hot days.

Well, oldsters have prostate issues, and the one bathroom in the joint is all the way at the other end. No big deal. I paid him no more mind.

Until he got up, and walked around to the side of the brick shelter. He proceeded to lower his pants, squatted against the wall beside the trash bin, and dropped a hefty steamer on the pavement.

At this point my jaw was on the floor. Well, it was, until I flashed on what was on the ground hereabouts, and quickly winched it back into place. The old geezer reached inside the trash bin, pulled out some newspaper, and cleaned himself, then hoisted his pants back into place and wandered back to his bench quite nonchalantly, given the magnificent social faux pas he'd committed in full view of the assemblage.

There's a scene in From Dusk 'Til Dawn where George Clooney's character sees what his psycho brother has done to a hostage, and though he's not much of an actor, his expression in that scene was worthy of praise. It was the epitome of "I can't believe I'm seeing this. I know I am, 'cause it's right here in front of me, but there's no freakin' way this can be here, but it is, and I'm lookin' at it. But I'm still not believin' it!"

I kinda mirrored that expression this morning. I really wish I'd had my camera, but I piss off enough people as it is without having a snapshot of a turd on my blog.

The old geezer watered down the wall one more time, and I had to jump on my bus. I kinda wanted to be late for work to catch the 9:05, just to see what bodily function would be put on display next.

I pity the cleaning crew today. I just wish I had a Baby Ruth wrapper to toss down next to the geezer's bundle of joy to give 'em a real surprise.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Buying A Shootin' Iron

A Guide For Someone In Need Of Unsolicited Advice

I heard over the weekend that one of my blogbuddies is signed up for Concealed Carry classes. I ain't sayin' who it is, since I'm of the opinion that info like that is best left unpublished.

This person's no stranger to firearms, so I'm not out to teach Grandpa how to suck eggs. Trouble is, last time he had any extensive use of a handgun, Nixon was in office, and the handguns in question were relics of at least one (and likely two!) world wars and the institutional care and toss-in-a-crate storage of the Big Green Machine.

So, here's some things this person needs to keep in mind before shelling out a fistful of C-notes on a popper of his own.

Revolver Vs. Autoloader
I'm a big fan of autoloading pistols. I've also had one within reach most of my adult life, so I'm familiar with all the quirks of each particular model I own. It's knowledge that took years to accumulate.

I can say with great certainty and a middlin' amount of authority that autoloaders are the last gun I'd give to a beginner. There's just too many things to have to remember. Which lever is the slide release? Which is the decocker? Does the safety go up or down to activate? How do I clear a jam? Does the slide lock open after the last round? Where's the magazine release? Why won't this damn mag eject?

There's also the differential trigger pulls on DA/SA pistols, where the first round is a long double action squeeze, but all subsequent shots are a light single-action tap on the trigger. It's really easy to get an accidental discharge with that type in a stressful situation.

That's a lot of things to be going around in someone's head as they're pulling out the pistola to repel boarders. You really can't fault a double-action revolver for simplicity. You can operate one successfully for years and only touch two moving parts, the trigger and the cylinder release catch. No safeties, no need to cock the hammer unless you want to, and most empty cases will drop right out of the cylinder, so you rarely use the ejector plunger. It's almost, but not quite, completely idiot-proof.

A revolver can sit loaded for years with no magazine springs to weaken. They rarely quibble over ammo, whereas an autoloader can be really fussy about what it will feed reliably. Sure, they don't hold as much ammo, and aren't as slim as most autoloaders, but a CCW revolver is not meant for going into combat. It's a last ditch weapon after efforts to exit the situation have failed.

However... Texas CCW law still states that if you want to carry an autoloader, you need to pass the qualification course with an autoloader. If you take the course with a revolver, you're only allowed to carry a revolver, and would need to shell out the bux and requalify when/if you wanted to go the autoloader route. So, there's that to keep in mind as well.

Which Caliber?
All us strong and manly men, with no... errrr... shortcomings to compensate for, naturally choose the biggest, loudest, most destructive round we can stuff into our trousers. Grunt! Argh! Kill!

Ok, not really. What you really want is a round that will get the job done, and not cause seismic disturbances in the process. It can't be so powerful that you're afraid to shoot it, but also needs to be tailored to the situation and experience level of the user.

I love the .45 ACP. Big, heavy, slow moving, and it usually leaves the goblin that receives a few slugs knowing he's way far up Shit Creek. It's almost universally an autoloader round, though, and the few revolvers that chamber it tend to be heavy, with a cylinder the diameter of a baseball bat. Kinda hard to conceal.

.44 Magnum is wonderfully adaptive, and a good handloader can make bear-busting rounds as well as mild-mannered target stuff that hardly kicks. The CCW applicant this posting is for is not a handloader, though, and even though you could put .44 Specials in a .44 Mag revolver, you've still got a sizable revolver to try and hide about your person.

The .41 Magnum is the red-haired stepchild of the Magnum loadings. It just never really caught on, despite impressive ballistics and a manageable recoil. They're hard to find these days, ammo is pricy, and it's still a sizable handgun.

This brings us to the .357 Magnum/.38 Special. If you're going to buy a revolver in .38 caliber, you might as well get a .357, since you can always put .38 Specials into the .357 cylinder, but not vice versa. I can think of about 20 different commercial loadings for .357/.38, so ammo is cheap, plentiful and available for a wide variety of purposes. I like to feed +P .38 hollowpoints in my Ruger .357, since they're more zippy than regular .38's, but don't have the flash and blast of full-power Magnum loads.

You could go one step lower to the .32 S&W cartridge, the smallest the state will let you qualify with, but it's an obsolete round, and I don't know any currently manufactured revolvers chambered for it. Sure, Paul Kersey used one to great effect against muggers, but he had Hollywood FX on his side.

(Yeah, there's .32 H&R Magnum, but good luck finding ammo for it anywhere outside a full-service gunshop)

Gotta vote for the .357 in a revolver, then. Here's my picks for a good choice in a CCW revolver, in descending order. (FYI: I'm leaving anti-S&W politics out of this exercise...)

Ruger SP101 - I'd get the spurless hammer version, myself.

S&W 640 - As easy to operate as you can get in a revolver. The Dixie decoration's just an added bonus

S&W 649 - Close to the above, but with a hammer you can cock, and no Rebel yahoo stuff on it.

S&W 386 - Will kick harder, but you get 7 rounds.

Taurus 651 SHC - Better than a sharp stick!

Taurus 650 SS - Ooo! Shiny!

I can't in good conscience recommend an autoloader at this stage in the game, but if you do decide to go that route, better a .40 S&W or .357 SIG than the 9mm Europellet. I can't really recommend the Glock at all. Yeah, fans of the TupperWare Terror will shriek, but there's too many exploding Glocks and accidental discharges due to the funky trigger to recommend them to a novice user.

I've rambled on enough. Call me, dude! We'll talk.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blogroll Update - The Kilt Strikes Back

I'll Be Stripped Of My Copy Of 'Liberalism Is A Mental Disorder' For This...

My friend Andy has made the leap off of Blogspot and into a domain of his own. Therefore, his old site 'Searching For A Better Way' has been retired in favor of 'A Kilted Liberal'.

Of course, updating my blogroll means I actually have to have the word "liberal" on my front page. In the pole position, at that. I've known him the longest of all my blogfriends, though, so it's only proper.

Go have a read. It won't turn you gay. Or pagan. Or (shudder) liberal.

But you may have an urge to wear a skirt...

Because (Usually) There's No Cat Hair!

Blogosphere Suddenly Short On Deductive Reasoning

A few people, and I bet they're all either overbearing mothers or p-whipped mama's boys have polluted my inbox asking why on earth I would leave a suit coat laying on a sofa, and not put it in the closet "where it belongs". Apparently it's MY fault the cat decided to roll around on it, and I have horribly tortured Pookie Cat by not giving her daily treats.

When the Carnival of Cats gets an Instalanche, and I get 400 new visitors in two days, odds are a few will be nosy parkers...

OK, as I said in the catblog... the front room, or parlor, or what have you, is generally an area where the furmonsters are verboten. It's also behind closed doors. That means it's the one room in the house that's mostly free of drifting cat fur, and on the odd days I have to assume the corporate armor, I don't have to be constantly picking fuzz off my jacket.

Pookie Cat took advantage of my using the parlor as a staging area for all the krep brought into the house to prepare for the hurricane, and hid under the couch until I was out of sight, then wallowed on my jacket.

Hmmmph. Next time, I'll just say I beat her soundly with a large stick, just to hear these ninnies mewl and whine.

Where's The Walrus When You Need Him?

Damn Oysters

"The time has come," El Capitan said,
"To talk of many things:
Of cats--and canned food--and Pepto Bismol--
Of lettuce--and blingblings--
And why the day is boiling hot--
And whether weasels have springs."

OK, enough torturing of Lewis Carroll. Been a weird couple of days. Ate some smoked oysters over the weekend, and have not quite been the same since. I thought the raw ones were the ones that could floor you, in months that don't have a Tuesday in 'em, or something like that.

I'd had the can kicking around in the cupboard for ages. I'm pretty sure it made the migration down from Dallas way back when. I can only surmise that the wandering spirits of those oysters finally found there way here from Singapore, and were dancing about the cans just waiting for me to consume their earthly hulls so they could at long last have the peace they craved.

I'll spare the yucky details. Suffice it to say that if today hadn't been a half-day at work, I'd be collapsed over my desk moaning about colonic ejectamenta and calling for my emergency backup pants.

I'm off to bed. I'll probably wake up around midnight with an odd craving for a fried oyster po-boy sammich, but I'll likely just roll over and go back to sleep. Oysters are off the menu for a few months, I think.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Sneaky Felines Caught In The Act

Haven't catblogged in ages, and there's not much else to do today besides poke around with a digital camera.

Pookie Cat's on the $hit list... A) she's in the parlor, a No Cat zone, B), she's on the sofa, and C) she's dragged my suit coat off the back of the sofa and is using it as a comforter. No treats for you tonight, Pook!

Betsy Cat is just being annoying. I'm trying to change bedsheets, and she insists on staying in the middle of the bare mattress, just out of easy reach. She's about to meet Mr. Squirt Gun.

Darn cats. If they weren't so cute, we'd be having 'em for dinner...

Damage Report

Dodging Bullets Our Specialty!

Not too bad outside. Lots of limbs off the big tree out front. (I have no idea what kind it is, it's probably of the genus Litterus Limbus, since it drops branches when a squirrel farts...)

We lost a couple of trellis panels, and the flagpole holder tore off of the porch column holding it up, since genius here forgot to take down the Texas flag last night.

The neighbors across the street lost a section of fence, and the big shrub that's currently propping it up will come out somewhat the worse for wear.

Still, not too bad, and we've still got power, water and gas. I'd pour a big slug of scotch to celebrate, but it's a bit early, even for me!

Rita, You Tease!

Got Me All Worked Up, Then Ran Away

Wind's gusting, but nothing sustained. Lots of leaves and small branches littering the cul de sac. No rain to speak of yet. Every so often, there'll be a strong blow, and you can hear it coming several blocks away.

I'm ready to call it a night. I'd planned on staying up, but I think I'll just set the alarm for 4 a.m. or thereabouts. If the power goes out, at least I'll be ignorant of that fact until I wake up at dawn.

See y'all tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Motorist Advisory

Hope You Took The Scenic Route...

Now that Rita has taken an eastward turn, no doubt there's plenty of evacuees that are getting pretty steamed at being told to get out of town and consequently spending 20+ hours just to get to Waco.

It won't take too long for the knuckleheads to start blaming the gummint for ordering the evacuation, bleating that "they should have known" that Rita wasn't going to walk right up I-45, and call the entire evacuation a 'quagmire' and 'miserable failure'.

Ok, I need to let a guest speaker come in and address all the whiners that will inevitably play Monday morning quarterback about this whole process:

Thanks, Penn.

Let me put this into perspective. In the space of less than 72 hours, we have moved very close to 1% OF THE ENTIRE FI$KING U.S. POPULATION!!!! at least 100 miles inland. Yes, people have been inconvenienced. People have died. I was almost sick to my stomach when I heard about the bus full of elderly burning just south of Dallas. (My job this past week has been helping special needs citizens get directed onto evac buses. If the burned bus had been one I'd put people on, I don't know how I'd have reacted. It wouldn't have been pretty.)

Regardless of the collateral damage, or breakage, or whatever you want to call it, the evacuation was necessary and proper. There's no way you mount that sort of operation without any losses. You should not have an expectation for a life of perfect comfort, especially when Mother Nature comes knocking. Hell, just do the math. 2.7 million people, divided by, say, 1.5 million cars, trucks and buses at an average vehicle length of 20 feet equals 264 vehicles per mile. Basically, a bumper-to-bumper line of cars on the Great Circle Parkway stretching from here to just shy of Moscow. That's Moscow, Russia, mind you, not Moscow, TX.

As for the gasoline shortage, again, that's inevitable. When that many people stick a straw into the Big Gulp at the same time, you shouldn't be surprised when the folks at the end of the line come up empty.

This ain't utopia, folks, it's Texas. Real life just slapped us all in the face. It ain't pretty, but we're dealing. So, cowboy up, count your blessings, and have a safe trip home.

Oh, and smack those annoying doomsayer reporters for me.

Recharging For A Bit

Can't Sleep, Hurricane Will Eat Me! Can't Sleep, Hurricane Will Eat Me!!!

Sat down to watch the local news, next thing I know it's an hour later, and both the cats are yowling at me 'cause it's half-past Treat Time.

Guess I'm a little more wiped than I thought. Got up at 4 a.m. this morning on a week that's been short on sleep to begin with, and then shifting half the garage around this afternoon to get supplies didn't help my energy reserves.

So, nap time for a bit. I want a good dose of sleep before this beast rolls ashore.

Back in a few hours.

Water, Water Everywhere

And Plenty Of Drops To Drink

The water coolers I keep stored in the garage must have been heeding the call of migration all summer. I could swear I left them right at the front of the garage, but the urge to rejoin their brethren at the Igloo plant a few miles away must have been very strong.

It took me nearly an hour to excavate deep enough to find all three, as well as my jerrycan. I've still got my 5 gallon carboy out there, but it remains tantalizingly out of reach.

No matter, there's 20 gallons worth of drinking water in 5 gallon doses lined up on the living room floor, and close to another 10 gallons in liter and half-liter bottles in the freezers. Damn, I just noticed I mixed my measurements.

I've got three 30 gallon plastic bins that are destined to get put in the bathrooms and filled with water for washing & cooking.

(Bwahahhaaa!!! Sorry, just watching MSNBC TV, and Mayor White just wedged that grandstanding harridan Sheila Jackson Lee out of the range of the camera. Go away, Lee. You're a hack looking for press time, and you know it.)

Got the LP gas lantern found, and there's 1 1/2 cylinders of gas for it. My Coleman camping stove is good to go, but I can't find the spare can of fuel. No big deal there, I've got a gas stove in the kitchen, and that should stay functional.

The wind's picking up, and the first rain started to fall when I was out back rinsing out the coolers. Now, we wait...

Done My Duty, Goin' Home To Fort Up

And Not A Minute Too Soon...

I had to go back downtown for a few hours this morning, just to lock things down before turning everything over to the folks with badges and radios.

Here's what I-10 looked like heading east just past the 610 loop just after 9 a.m.:

Eerie. Not too much traffic heading west, either. Those massive jams of last night have largely cleared out, though the shoulders and access roads are littered with abandoned vehicles.

Here's Louisiana St., one of the main arteries going through downtown. This was taken at 5:45 pm last night, a time when this road is usually wall to wall cars & buses. Today, you were perfectly safe ignoring the Walk/Don't Walk signs. There was hardly anyone other than official vehicles on the roads.

This is the line of Metrolift buses staged outside the Public Works building downtown. They were being used in coordination with the 311 line to identify people with special needs who are unable to get out on their own. The buses would pick those people up and transport them to a hospital or evacuation hub, depending on their needs. I'm still peeved at METRO for stranding me yesterday, but the drivers on this crew are in great spirits and are getting the job done. Bravo for that.

You can see Hizzoner's Castle Anthrax (aka Minas Bagby) in the background, with the All-Seeing Eye on all four sides.

OK, so the eye looks kinda like a clock. They planned it that way to lure you into a false sense of security...

So, I'm back home, getting ready to go dig in the garage for my Igloo coolers and jerry cans for washing/cooking water. I've already got umpteen dozen bottles of drinking water in the deep freeze for an extra ice stash.

Now, if I just had a Sonic lemon slush and a cheeseburger, I'd be all set...

Stay safe, Houstonites. More later.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

In The Nick Of Time...

Here Comes The Cavalry!

My hetero-lifemate Zibig should be pulling out of his driveway in 10 minutes or so to brave the mostly-vacant streets of Houston to come rescue my stuck-in-downtown ass. I sure hope the Caddy's OK. It was one of 5 cars in the transit center lot, and now is probably there all by its lonesome.

We'll probably hang out at the casa after we pick up the Cad, have a few beers, and lay out fields of fire. Assuming we make it back.

Next post will hopefully be from home.

OK, on the count of three, every one say "THANK YOU, ZIBIG!!!"



Right Up The Tailpipe

Goddamned Hurricane

Well, I'm phuct. Just got a call from Dad who heard on the radio that METRO was shutting down all bus services at 2 p.m. Naturally, I find out at 3 p.m.

METRO was supposed to stay running a reduced schedule until 9 p.m. tonight, giving me a way back to the Park & Ride. Guess I'll get to hike if I can't finagle a ride. Not a taxicab in sight, either. It's only 8 miles or so. Should take me, oh... 2 or 3 days. It's not the distance, it's the neighborhoods I'll have to traverse. And thanks to our lovely policy forbidding concealed carry at work, my usual means of goblin deterrence is at the other end of the journey.

Plan for things to get worse, you will not be disappointed...

This Tastes Like A Pig's Ass...

I'm Gonna Bitch-Slap Oscar Mayer

Bleagh. Just tried some Oscar Mayer Ham & Cheese Loaf on crackers. Had to use crackers, there wasn't a loaf of bread in the entire grocery store. They even ran out of that nasssty deli french bread.

What has happened to the ham & cheese loaf? I haven't bought any for quite a long time. Usually, I just buy hotdogs to get my recommended daily allowance of lips, @$$holes and sodium nitrate.

Once upon a time, Oscar Mayer Ham & Cheese Loaf was a recognizable mix of chopped ham and little gooey cheese bits. Tasted great after giving it a 20 second microwave hit.

Now, it's morphed into an evil mess of bologna puree that's been soaked in ham-flavored liquid. The cheese bits are now hard & waxy, and the stuff leaves a grease coat on your tongue that even this puckery lemonade I've got can barely dissolve.

Gack. Next time, I get the roast beef, and damn the cost. This stuff's vile.

Goin' Nowhere Fast..

Best Bring A Book To Read. A BIG One!

Just got off the phone with my parents. They left town right at 6 a.m., heading for my sister's place outside of San Marcos. It's now 1 p.m., and they've just reached Brenham. Took them 6 hours to go the 43 miles between here and Hempstead, and traffic reports say it doesn't start to break up until past Giddings.

Dad had planned on dropping Mom off, then doing a quick turnaround, getting back here by 5 pm or so to gear up and go join all his CERT buddies. Now it looks like he might not be allowed back into town due to the reversal of the traffic lanes. We'll see what happens. He might end up wearing a bedsheet for the next few days while his one set of clothes gets washed!

This does crimp my plans, somewhat. The large apartment community just over the back fence is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Has been for 25 years. The place even has its own liquor store tucked in the middle of the complex so folks don't have to exert themselves cashing their relief checks and buying cases of 40 ouncers. (The Koreans that run the joint live out their workdays behind 4" Plexiglas.) If a Rita-spawned tornado leveled the whole thing, I would shed not a tear, and dance a jig as I looked over the rubble.

Through our neighborhood spy agencies that have infiltrated the den of weasels, we've already had news of shitbags planning to jump the fence and 'go shopping' in my subdivision once all the gringos leave town. This has happened before. I've lost a motorscooter to the thieves, and also had a car broken into. Several houses have been burgled in the area, including the folks across the cul de sac. One tip from our sources last year had a gang of delinquents planning on firebombing cars in our neighborhood. They actually torched one two streets over before someone squealed on 'em and they all went to the juzgado.

I'd planned on having Dad available to keep an eye on things while I'm stuck downtown, and then we could run watch & watch during the storm and afterwards, just in case we do get some wandering scumbags poking around the hacienda. I have serious doubts about Dad being capable of dropping the hammer on someone, but he could certainly shake me awake so I could go perforate them. (I'm somewhat less civilized than he is...)

Well, I'll just have to take life as it gets tossed to me. No plan survives contact with the enemy.

Off now for some lunch. I'm betting none of the food places in the tunnel are open. Good thing I stopped off at the store for some munchies this morning.

No Way Out

Freeways Collapsing Under Weight Of Bazillion Cars

OK, there's not really any roads crumbling. Yet. You can still get out of Houston, but it's gonna take hours if you leave right now.

Riding in on the commuter bus, we had smooth sailing on I-10 heading east towards downtown. Maybe one other car per hundred yards of freeway.

Going west? Holeeee $hit. Parking lot. Literally thousands of people at a dead stop, and hundreds standing around outside their cars, peeing on the dividing wall, or pouring precious drinking water in overheated radiators. I saw no less than 10 cars off to the side of the road with their hoods up between Washington and the I10/I45 junction.

Lotsa frayed nerves out there. Everyone just swallow a Valium, and chill! It's gonna get worse before it gets better, I guarantee!

I'm thinking if you need to leave town, mayhap you ought to let this gigantimous traffic jam clear up. They're saying that the I-10 mess doesn't break up until you reach Columbus, and I-45 is stacked solid past Huntsville. Rain's not due to start falling until tomorrow afternoon, so you've got some time if you're outside of the flood zones.

Best drain all the gas out of your lawnmower and put it in your car, though. I passed many a gas station with a big ugly "NO GAS" sign out front. Glad I filled up yesterday morning, before the lines started. Last night, it took me nearly an hour to go 8 miles due to the backups caused by people trying to get into and out of gas stations along Long Point Rd.

Off to a meeting. Back for more blogging a bit later. Stay safe!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Irregular Blogging Ahead

Feast Or Famine... Too Early to Tell

As some of you know, I work for an unnamed governmental entity in the Greater Houston area. For reasons that I can barely fathom, I have been named "essential personnel" to remain on duty while the rest of my department, including managers and the Grand Poobah, run for their lives from the approaching monsoon.

I seem to recall mentioning to my boss that I was single, no dependents and possessed of a reliable vehicle, which may have had something to do with my getting 'volunteered', but in truth, I probably would have stayed anyway. This is a nice strong building, there's a stand-by generator the size of Delaware out back, and I can be pretty certain that I'll have A/C and live 'net access for the duration.

I've got the Caddy's trunk full of food and water, the garage in this building has never flooded due to pumps that could drain the Gulf of Mexico in half an hour, and barring the possibility of having to climb many flights of stairs to get out of here, it's a lot safer than out in the 'burbs. OK, the building next door could tip over and flatten this site, but that's really unlikely.

So, I'm off to batten down the hatches at Casa Capitan, and make sure the kitties have enough kibble and a fresh poop-box. For me, the fun began with the start of the mandatory evacuations, and likely won't end until the last of the negligence lawsuits have been settled. It seems to be long periods of boredom, punctuated with short intervals of insane activity. So, I'll blog when I can, for as long as I can.

Wish me luck!

A quick PSA: If you need assistance getting out, go here for details.

If you're in a flood zone, and have the ability to get out, GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE NOW!!! Staying and getting your ass in a jam just makes emergency personnel have to bust their asses needlessly.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How To Make A Pirate All Sniffly

Too Damned Much Estrogen Floating Around In Here Lately...

Go read this. Have a hanky at the ready.

When you're finished, go hug your pets.

Found at BoingBoing.

Yesss!! Come To Me, My Precioussss!!!

I'm Such A Fanboy...

Got my eBay shipment yesterday!

Season Four of Smallville! All 19 22! episodes, just waiting to be watched in one long marathon. See, I don't get UHF channels very well, so I went into hibernation mode, quit reading the websites and newsgroups and waited cold-turkey the 10 months that it took for the 4th season to be released on DVD. This is kinda like giving a crack junkie 10 pounds of rock all at once!

I'm trying very hard to wait for the weekend before cutting into the shrinkwrap, otherwise I'll watch 3 or 4 hours every night, and be a shambling zombie at work.

OTOH, if I wait for the weekend, Hurricane Rita might knock out the power for days and I'll be right up shit creek!

Decisions, decisions...

No Content Kibitzing!

It's My Blog, And I'll Spat If I Want To...

OK, I understand that my foray into uncharted waters of a blog-tiff have some of you confused and perplexed. No, it's not what I usually do, and it probably won't be repeated. However, at the time, it seemed necessary and proper. Followups to AoM's site revealed that 'Anonymous' most likely WAS one of the Diva crew, and a certain 'Bama heffalump needs to just shut her yap before she digs a deeper hole.

Now, here's fair warning... Any more attempts (well intentioned or otherwise) to debate what I should or should not be doing on this blog will result in an immediate flood of Emily Dickinson poetry for a random length of time. If the griping gets real bad, I'll have to add a heavy dose of the timeless verse of Leonard Nimoy.

Here's a sample. Look upon her works, and despair!

A wounded deer leaps highest,
I've heard the hunter tell;
'Tis but the ecstasy of death,
And then the brake is still.

The smitten rock that gushes,
The trampled steel that springs:
A cheek is always redder
Just where the hectic stings!

Mirth is mail of anguish,
In which its cautious arm
Lest anybody spy the blood
And, "you're hurt" exclaim

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.
"And I for truth, -the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

(Ick, hork, must...control... gag reflex...)
Now, don't make me go there again! Verstehen-zie, kameraden?

Monday, September 19, 2005

We All Get Older...

But The Cliques Still Remain

I apologize in advance for this, but you're about to get a long unsolicited rant...

Normally, I avoid getting in the middle of a cat fight. You rarely come out of it unscathed, and then you've got a whopping case of cat scratch fever and that lingering aroma of cat pee all over you for months...

This time, I can't just go back into lurk mode, though. I've gotten well and truly annoyed at some people who seem to need a good application of a peachtree switch to their backsides, and a forced recitation of Emily Post's Greatest Hits.

Army of Mom posted a question regarding her apparent blackball by the ladies of the Cotillion. Who is/are the Cotillion? Acidman griped about them a while back, and was quickly tagged as a misogynist curmudgeon for daring to lift up their crinolines and expose their stubbly legs and knobbly knees for all to see.

The Cotillion is simply a group of (mostly) female bloggers who periodically hold a coming-out debutante ball to showcase their wares. Their style of blogging and mine are worlds apart, and I really only crossed paths with them when a retired blogger on my daily reading list mentioned them. I don't know about their admittance policies or the criteria they use to select their members, but as most bloggers I've met are an easygoing "We'll hang with anyone" crowd, I just assumed they'd give anyone a shot. Heh, guess not.

At the times that Rob griped about the "divas", I assumed he was just being his usual cantankerous self. After reading a response (allegedly from a Cotillion insider) on AoM's comment section, I realized Rob probably had them pegged from the get-go.

Check this out... Army of Mom (AoM) asks:
There is this lovely website of conservative (mostly Southern) women bloggers who are part of The Cotillion which features the description "Hub site to The Cotillion, a group of some of the best and brightest bloggers around!" I have emailed these webmistresses at least two or three times each to ask for consideration to be a part of the group. Nothing but crickets chirping. They can even email me back to say 'you suck AoM.' I just want an answer that tells me why I can't be part of their clique.

Fair enough question. No replies to her queries, though. This response gets posted in her comments section, however, by 'Anonymous':
As an insider, I know that the main reason your request is being ignored is that you don't fit the mold. The cotillion bloggers touch on interesting life issues, link to good writing and are generally smart and entertaining - less focused on the mundane issues of personal lives and less focused on ogling the opposite sex or being what many would consider to be disrespectful to your husband or wife by posting beefcake and talking - jokingly I'm sure - about wanting to get with said beefcake. A cotillion blogger doesn't necessarily discuss sitting on the toilet, for example. These things are fine for some blogs - including your blog - because that is your style and you are largely writing for a small audience of friends and others who have found your blog(judging by your comments). But it just doesn't fit the sophisticated style. That said, your blog is certainly interesting just less wordly and comprehensive than the cotillion group. Perhaps you could consider starting your own group for women who blog about their thoughts from the toilet or women who lust for unattainable men. I hope that doesn't come across as rude it's just more the style of your blog. Good luck.

OK, extremely harsh, extremely condescending, and you can't really confirm it came from the Cotillion, but at least AoM gets an answer. There's several other commenters that gripe at 'Anonymous' for the bluntnness of the response, but I'm not too annoyed with it. I'm not on the receiving end, after all. Then, 'Anonymous' posted this:
Your blog has its place; the cotillion blogs have a different place. You should not take anything personally. It's good you have a husband who isn't offended by some of the comments you make and feelings you have about other men. I guess that's either very secure, indeed, or clueless or indicates a lack of caring.

Everyone has their own feelings on how to respect a spouse.
WTF??? OK, you tasteful and cultured piece of work, 'Anonymous'... first, you pretty flatly say "You're not in our league, but don't let it trouble your plebian head", then, you flat-out insult their marriage by insinuating the husband's a doofus or doesn't care. Absolutely uncalled for. Classless, tasteless, and just plain "tacky" to steal one of the all-time favorite Diva words.

Finally, we get this last salvo from our Queen of Condescension:
Her blog does not fit with the way of the cotillion - as it's very much full of things nobody cares about other than those close to her, rather than touching on the greater good and larger issues. (ed note: redacting a bit here)
AoM: Clearly you're a fine mother, with a good husband; a good writer with some cogent posts at times and interesting things to say - so be happy with that. Because you're not what the cotillion is about doesn't mean anything other than your blog serves a different purpose. It's tailored more to frustrated women than the sophisticated woman. Be proud of that.

Unbelievable. For the second time, AoM gets patted on the head and told "Shut up and know your place, subcreature." 'Anonymous', you're a fucking twat.

For the record, I'm not close to AoM at all. Never met her, never emailed her. Still, I read her stuff every day. Not because of the beefcake shots or the tons and tons of stuff about the rugrats, but simply because she knows how to tell a story well. That's all the "sophistication" I'm looking for.

'Anonymous', I sure hope your postings came from a troll looking to spoof the Cotillion. It definitely puts that group of bloggers in a very suspect light. Woody Allen once said "I'd never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member". Well, I'm not interested in any group that would have this 'Anonymous' as a member. So, that pretty much writes off anyone on their membership list.

Not that they'd care. I'm tacky and gross, and write about icky things.

Look, I'm not faulting anyone for choosing who they prefer to hang out with. We all do it in one form or another, it's part of being human. Still, if you're going to set yourself up as an elite group, there's another set of rules that you put on along with that tiara. If you set out to anoint yourself as the Lord or Lady of the realm, you had best understand perfectly the concept of noblesse oblige and how to act the part, sans peur et sans reproche. Otherwise I'll be calling 'bullshit' while flinging it at you.

Sorry you didn't get what you wanted, AoM. For what it's worth, you're a pretty damned good blogger.

We'll close with a little ditty by the Sex Pistols.

There's no point in asking you'll get no reply
Oh just remember I don't decide
I got no reason it's too all much
You'll always find us out to lunch

Oh we're so pretty
Oh so pretty we're vacant
Oh we're so pretty
Oh so pretty
We're vacant

Don't ask us to attend 'cos we're not all there
Oh don't pretend 'cos I don't care
I don't believe illusions 'cos too much is real
So stop you're cheap comment 'cos we know what we feel

Oh we're so pretty
Oh so pretty we're vacant
Oh we're so pretty
Oh so pretty we're vacant
Ah but now and we don't care

There's no point in asking you'll get no reply
Oh just remember a don't decide
I got no reason it's too all much
You'll always find me out to lunch
We're out on lunch

Oh we're so pretty
Oh so pretty we're vacant
Oh we're so pretty
Oh so pretty we're vacant
Oh we're so pretty
Oh so pretty ah
But now and we don't care

We're pretty
A pretty vacant
We're pretty
A pretty vacant
We're pretty
A pretty vacant
We're pretty
A pretty vacant

And we don't care

Charity Or Business As Usual?

I'd Like The Whole Story Here...

When I cut a check to the Red Cross or some other charity organization, I'm not looking for someone to reimburse me 2 weeks later. I figure that it's money that needed to be spent, and I'll just have to cut back on my budget for a few weeks or months.

Now, on the City Council Agenda for Sep. 20th, I see this item of business: (OK, the spacing is phuct... I don't feel like making an HTML table for this...)

16. RECOMMENDATION from Director Finance & Administration for Emergency Purchases to address Hurricane Katrina Relief/Aid in an amount not to exceed $7,623,368.65 to the following:


1. Gallery Furniture-----$4,000,000.00
2. Exclusive Furniture-----$1,000,000.00
3. Finger Furniture-----$800,000.00
4. Roto Rooter-----$45,000.00
5. Accur Air-----$60,000.00
6. W.W. Grainger-----$499.50
7. A1 Delivery Service-----$1,000.00
8. Big State Trailers-----$2,000.00
9. Universal Building Services-----$10,000.00
10. Bi Rite Furniture-----$300,000.00
11. BFI Waste Systems-----$975.00
12. Sleep Shop-----$647,388.00
13. Sam’s Club-----$31,969.04
14. Sunland Engineering-----$100,000.00
15. Ardmore Power Logistics-----$5,000.00
16. Linens ‘N Things-----$21,858.12
17. Bed, Bath & Beyond-----$5,786.00
18. Wal-Mart-----$501,281.64
19. Home Depot-----$499.95
20. Lowe’s Hardware-----$4,459.08
21. Jason’s Deli-----$489.15
22. Blantex, Inc.-----$64,500.00
23. Conn’s-----$2,357.95
24. Bound Tree Medical-----$16,347.22
25. Western Appliance-----$1,958.00

The City opens up the Dome & GRB for evacuees, it's gonna need some supplies. All well & good. Still, I sorta expected local businesses to play the charity game too. Sure, $4 million is a huge hit for "Mattress Mack", but he's paid almost that much for several Grand Champion steers at the Livestock Show in the past few years. Jason's Deli could write off $500 worth of sammiches, and not even notice it.

I don't know the whole story here, but I really hope some of these business owners consider writing off some of the expenses, and leave the City with some operating capital now that Tropical Storm Rita is heading this way.

Yarrr!!!! It Be Talk Like A Pirate Day, Matey!

'Cause There's Still One Or Two Co-workers That Think I'm Normal

Well, shiver me timbers! The calendar do say it be time again for Talk Like A Pirate Day!!

Drag yer bony old parrot out of 'is cage, strap on ye olde cutlass, and sing yer seagoin' shanties all day, me hearties! If that scurvy dog of a boss tells ya to "Avast there", let him have it to the hilt!

Wanted: One Chicken, One Large Bucket

Time To Get The Real Story

I'm talking to a coworker this morning, and was relaying the details of a call I'd just fielded. The woman I spoke to was so mad about her issue, the phone just about started to glow red. As I'm relating this, I use a phrase I've used a thousand times before: "She was madder than a wet hen."

Now, I don't know about you, but I've never poured water on a chicken and seen the resulting emotional state of the fowl in question. I'm very curious about finding out, though.

How much water needs to be applied to the hen before it starts to change its mood? Does a light sprinkling generate annoyance? Perhaps a thimbleful to cause consternation? A pint to get it peeved? Enquiring minds want to know.

So, since I'm fresh out of unfrozen chickens, I'm asking some of you rural bloggers to look into this. I'll gladly send you a roll of paper towels and a hair dryer to help the chicken regain its proper frame of mind afterwards. Please let me know how moist a hen needs to be to get really angry.

Remember, it's for science, so record your results. There might be a igNobel Prize for this.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Remember, It Can Always Get Worse

Go Hug Your Kids/Cats/Hubby Or Whatever You've Got

Some days, really effed-up, screamingly awful, completely undeserved things happen to good people that change forever the rhythm of their lives.

In this case, it ain't me under the tailgate of the Dump Truck of Reality. It's still pretty difficult being an observer, and seeing your friends receive the full load of odiferous drama they never asked for or expected.

Be thankful for your late bills, and the squeaky brakes, and the drippy faucet and the incontinent dog. It could be immeasurably worse.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Carnival Of Cordite #30

Full Of Righteous Rage This Week

The latest Carnival Of Cordite is up over at Gullyborg's. Lots of folks are up in arms (sometimes literally) over the illegal weapons confiscations in New Orleans.

Grab a fresh cup of coffee and go check it out!

Friday, September 16, 2005

More Fun With Ted

Mocking Him Never Seems To Lose Its Appeal!

Grouchy Old Cripple is poking fun at Ted Kennedy. He's welcome to link to my efforts at that laudable pastime.

For even more thrills and chills, go here and get some behind-the-scenes info on the senior senator from Massachusetts. It's amazing what political influence and a shitload of cash will do for an unremarkable "C" student.

All Good Things...

Well, This Certainly Sucks...

Got up to do my early morning blog scan, and saw this joyous piece of news on Kim du Toit's site:

I can only surmise that Kim's new job had a "No Blogging" policy. Still, that doesn't explain everything. The Nation of Riflemen Forum hosted on the site wouldn't necessarily be covered under that sort of employment contract, and definitely the Mrs. can't (and shouldn't) be muzzled by Kim's paymasters.

Sigh. Another one gone. I don't mind so much when the crappy blogs take a powder, but lately, it's been some of the good ones. This sucks. Damn, I can't even go to the range and toss some rounds downrange to blow off steam. Gotta go to work. I'll just be perpetuating the stereotype of the surly government employee all day now...

Best of luck to the du Toit clan. Hope things work out. I will miss reading your site daily!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Almost Got Away With It

Two Examples Of Crushed Hopes

Today's not the day for risk-takers, it seems. On the way into the Park & Ride, I saw two squirrels chasing each other by the side of the road. Then, inexplicably, both decided to dash into the road, presumably to continue the game on the north side of the street.

Squirrels being squirrels, and not possessed of more than a thimbleful of brain matter, chose to make their change of venue just as a herd of cars traversed that stretch of pavement. One squirrel bonded with a Michelin almost immediately, and the other decided to retreat. Just as I got near the scene of the squish, the Random Event Generator in the little squirrelly head of the surviving rodent decided that, no, it needed to change directions and continue on to its original destination.

He made it under my car, but looking back in the rearview mirror, he didn't manage to escape the car in the lane next to me. Two-Fer!!! 30-Love in favor of the vehicles today. Who knows, maybe they were star-crossed lovers from warring squirrel clans, and decided to end it all in a suicide pact.

The second incident made me laugh hard enough to rouse the other passengers on the commuter bus out of their naps. The Park & Ride I use is also a hub for the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes that run down most of our major freeways. You've got to have a certain number of people in the vehicle to use them, and the police will ticket you if you ride in them solo. Since the lane funnels into the Park & Ride area, the METRO cops will loiter around the exit ramp in pairs, waving over the violators to issue citations.

As my bus is pulling by the pair of cop cars, I see two officers loading the head and torso of a mannequin into the back of one of the cruisers. Apparently some genius had decided to spoof the system by having a "passenger" along for the ride. The genius did not take the trouble to dress the mannequin or put a wig on it, and a nekkid bald man with no arms or legs in your front seat tends to attract attention rather than deflect it.

I assume the cops seized the mannequin as evidence. I know it's a hefty fine if you get caught, but it's still a citation. I think they probably ought to have issued the ticket, and let the offender keep his mannequin. Who knows what actually happened. For all I know, the violator put up a fuss, and he was handcuffed and leg-ironed on the floorboards of the other cop car.

You see some odd things early in the morning...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum

Do Not Try To Dissuade Me!

I have decided that 37 years is too long to have lived on this Earth without ever owning a Velvet Elvis painting. Therefore, I'm shopping for a good one.

It must hang in a place of honor, where all can see and admire the artistry. I'm thinking the wall behind my desk at the office ought to do it. I'm in a high-traffic area, so many many people can pay homage to The King.

I saw this one on eBay. Whaddya think? It's got all the requisite characteristics of a classic Velvet Elvis... the Vegas-era jumpsuit, the almost monochrome paint scheme, the extravagant lighting effects... perfection!

Curious George Runs From Nazis

The Man In The Yellow Hat Was Actually SturmAbteilung

Interesting story in the Barnacle this morning about the curious little monkey that almost wasn't. The authors, who happened to be Brazilian Jews, had to flee Paris via bicycle to avoid the Nazi invasion.

Go read it before it disappears down the memory hole!

Yeah, Georgie... Good weed will do that to ya every time!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tales From New Orleans

The Thrilling Adventures Of The Cisco Kid

I got the OK to go ahead and post this, so here goes!

When Katrina changed from a damp nuisance into an "Oh, Shit..." scenario, me & my buddy Zibig get this message in our email Inbox from our friend "The Cisco Kid". The Cisco Kid wanders all over the Gulf Coast doing techie stuff. We weren't expecting to read this dispatch from Louisiana...
The roads were just fine.
Gas is readily available but this lines in BR were very long for gas as well as ATMs. I fortunately topped off my tank in Layafette with no line. Oddly enough the price at many gas stations in Lafayette and Baton Rouge is around $2.85!
There were many reports of looting and violence in Baton Rouge. In my brief time there there seemed to be no disorder other than lots of traffic. The current estimates are that the population of Baton Rouge has doubled.
The equipment I was supposed to have installed today did not arrive. Instead of camping out I decided to get a hotel room and some good rest. I had to back track all the way to Beaumont to find a room.
I have also found out that the equipment I am to be installing is to be installed in New Orleans. This equipment is to allow the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness to communicate and coordinate their efforts. If this equipment were not so important I would never take this risk. We are to be traveling from Baton Rouge to New Orleans under military escort.
Please do not convey this to XXXXXXX (the Cisco Kid's wife); The worry would kill her.
Pray for me.
Pray for New Orleans

Wow. Color us surprised. Then, nothing. No emails, no sign of The Cisco Kid. Until today...
Sunday Sept 4, 2005

Today I had a bowel movement and flushed the toilet. I have no way of knowing but I believe this qualifies me as the King of New Orleans. I firmly believe this despite the fact I had to haul water from the Hyatt pool to refill the tank afterwards. Let me fill you in on my adventures from Houston.

Thursday Sept 1st
I started off the morning offloading my work assignments to my grateful coworkers. (If they ain’t, they should be.) I loaded my Honda CRV with everything I could imagine Id need and took off to Baton Rouge.
Plan A was to meet our equipment (delivered by Fed EX) in Baton Rouge and proceed by military transport to New Orleans. On my trip to Baton Rouge I tried to communicate to the Unisys rep there. I was able to succeed only by text messaging. I coordinated a meet up at the Unisys office in Baton Rouge. 45 minutes out of Baton Rouge I was informed Fed Ex had lost the equipment.
Knowing accommodations were not to be had in Baton Rouge I had planned to camp out at the local Unisys office. When I at arrived at 1500 I found the office locked and no one responded to the knocks on the door. Cellular communications in Baton Rouge were impossible, I could not even get a response to a text message to the local contact.
Having nothing to do for the rest of the evening or the next morning I decided to try to find a real bed and a shower and a good nights rest. I called American Express travel. One by one I named off the towns along I10 heading back west to Houston. Not one Vacancy to be found in Louisiana. I started a long drive back. I informed my manager of the situation. He said he would try to find me accommodations and get back to me. The closest Accommodations to be found were in Beaumont TX.
At the hotel in Beaumont I met MJ. MJ escaped New Orleans by walking out to an evacuation point. MJ had landed a job at the House of Blues two weeks before Katrina. MJ weathered the storm at the hotel he had been living in. After the storm he went to the parking garage to discover is car 6 feet above water. MJ was relieved that he had weathered the storm with his possessions intact. After the storm had passed however the water continued to rise! MJ had lost his car and all his possessions. MJ fled his hotel and found shade on an elevated section of the freeway near the Superdome. He had helped to rescue a blind woman and several children in a leaking boat. He had the children try to plug the holes with their feet and bail as MJ pushed the boat thru chest deep water contaminated with petroleum and human waste. MJ walked out of the downtown area and caught an evacuation bus to Baton Rouge. MJ caught a shower, a Western Union money gram and a ride West. MJ related this to me after offering me a beer from the six-pack he had purchased as his initial therapy. I hope somebody gives MJ a medal.

Friday Sept 2nd
I slept in and had a late breakfast in anticipation of a long day. The news reports I had been listening to inspired me to buy a holster for my Browning 9mm. After words I received word that most of the parts arrived in Houston. The rest were to arrive by Fed Ex at 7pm. I arranged with the rest of the crew, who had flown in from New York, that they drive on to Baton Rouge and I would pick up the part and join them there and continue on to New Orleans.
That evening the part did not show up. After much searching it was determined that the part had missed its flight and would arrive tomorrow.

Saturday Sept 3rd.
The part had missed its new intended flight and was rerouted from Delta to Air France. Air France had no record of our Fed Ex shipment. In fact they only had two parts at their dock. We had the Air France rep check the weights of both packages. Amazingly one matched the weight of out box!

The only problem was that only a Fed Ex rep could sign for the package. Fortunately a Fed Ex driver arrived to pick up the part. I shudder to imagine where he would have taken the part if we had not been there to meet him.
I arrived in Baton Rouge in the late afternoon. I met up with Dwaine. Dwaine works for the mayor’s office. We arranged to enter New Orleans early the next morning when thing were likely to be a little more settled.
I had the fortune to be Dwayne’s houseguest for the night.

Sunday Sept 4th
After I got up and dressed I met Dwayne’s friend Lanny. We unloaded my stuffed Honda CRV into Lanny’s pickup. Lanny was shocked that my supplies filled the bed of his pickup. 5:45 am Dwayne, Lanny and I strapped on our guns and left for New Orleans after checking in with the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness. On the way we picked up a few last minute supplies including Redman chewing tobacco and Skoal. This being the currency de-jour of the Alabama National Guard on station in downtown New Orleans.
We passed several checkpoints on the way in. We entered central New Orleans thru the garden district. Occasional looting was evident. Looting was usually restricted to food and supplies. What really worried me was the amount of fallen, drying tree limbs. The garden district seemed like a tinderbox waiting for a spark.
We arrived at our destination, the Hyatt Regency, without incident. The first 3 floors of the Hyatt were the base of operations for the National Guard. The other members of my group had arrived the day before and set up a satellite to provide communications for the mayor’s office. We had a several rooms on the sixth floor. One room had a window knocked out to allow the communications equipment some shelter while having access to the satellite dish on a nearby rooftop.
Thanks to the efforts of Big Jim and half a dozen pouches of Red Man my pickup load of gear and supplies was hauled up to the sixth floor by several appreciated members of the National Guard.
Other than our generators there was no power at the Hyatt the night my teammates arrived. By the time I arrived some lights and the rooftop exhaust fans were running. Shortly after my gear was brought up elevator service was restored.
The Hyatt sheltered an estimated 3000 people during the storm and for five days afterwards. 3000 people X 5 days = 15000 required flushes, but no running water. My activities for the rest of the day made me glad I had brought long rubber gloves and hand sanitizer.

End of Part One. Part Two posted whenever I receive it!

From the left: Cisco Kid, Juan, Ed, Dwayne, Big Jim, & Dave.

Monday, September 12, 2005

If Goths Ruled The World

So Funny, I Had To Go Mope Around In A Dark Gloomy Room!

I found this Photoshop contest, and had to post it just so Jenni wouldn't miss it! So, here's what happens...

When Goths Rule The World!!!

Set One

Set Two

Here's three tidbits to start your path to misery...

Lucy In The Museum With Diamonds

Maxwell's Silver Hammer Not Allowed Inside!

Ok, so the diamonds are actually on another floor with the rest of the gem & mineral exhibit. Still, it's very exciting to know that we're about to get a visit from the most famous Ethiopian since Haile Selassie:
Houston museum drooling at prospect of exhibiting famous 'Lucy' fossil

HOUSTON -- The first-ever public display of Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old fossil discovered in Ethiopia, is scheduled for Houston in 2006, to the chagrin of some anthropologists who fear the project will harm the partial skeleton.

Ethiopia, the east African country where Lucy is stored in a museum safe, hopes to encourage tourism and investment by offering the treasure to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

There's quite a furor over whether or not moving Lucy is a good idea. Personally, I think if the old girl can survive 3 million years buried in the ground, this little trip oughta be a cakewalk.

I know I'll be ponying up my cash to have a peek. I was enthralled reading Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey's book on the discovery of Lucy. I liked it so much I bought a copy for my sister who was just entering college at the time.

On a side note, if you ever think scientists lack an egotistical side, look into the years-long feud between Johansen and Mary Leakey. Makes the earth-shattering squabble between Lindsey Lohan and Hilary Duff look like a cozy tea party. By the way, who the heck are Lindsey Lohan and Hilary Duff??

Of course, as you all know, the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually created Lucy with a wave of His Noodly Appendage as a means of testing our faith. So, go visit, but remember that the Good Recipe Book says it was all formed in 7 days. If you don't follow the Good Recipe Book, dinner will be ruined, and we'll all be sent to bed without dessert!

Ain't That Weird?

Rejoice, Dear Hearts!

Did some digging out in the garage this weekend. Found all the old Brother Dave Gardner comedy albums, or 'ablums' according to Brother Dave.

These all belonged to my Dad, but I've had them for some time. I was going through his old record collection about 20 years ago, and found Brother Dave most amusing, so I appropriated them, along with all the Sinatra and Tito Puente records.

It's old-school comedy. Long rambling tales, almost "shaggy-dog" like in their roundabout method of reaching the punchline. Then, you get to hear him sing a song or two. Entertainers back then were multitalented, a skill that's lost on the newer crop. Listen to Eddie Murphy sing if you don't believe me!

Brother Dave was an ordained Baptist preacher from Tennessee who decided to preach to an entirely different flock, one that hung out in nightclubs with a two-drink minimum. He's about 110% Dixie in his point of view, and in truth, it's a litle dated these days. Still, there's some truly funny stuff there. I love the bit about differences between Northerners & Southerners, even in foreign lands:

"You got Northern Germans and Southern Germans. Northern Germans, when they say 'Thank You', they say 'Danke Schoen'. Southern Germans, on the other hand, say 'Daawwwnkuh Shaaayne!"

Hehehe, that just kills me... I wish I could remember the bit about the "greaser" motorcycle dude who had the leather helmet with the flaps that unzipped so his sideburns could blow in the breeze. The bit about the birth of rock 'n' roll going back to David & Goliath is pretty funny, too.

Dig through those old ablum collections, Dear Hearts! There's good stuff to be found!

Your Tax Dollars At Work

I'd Be Amused/Disgusted If I Wasn't So Disgusted/Amused

There's a bunch of maintenance guys in the office next door, moving furniture around trying to find a cricket.

Yes, a cricket. You know, little black bug, hops a bit, doesn't bite?

Nevertheless, the occupant of the office has refused to occupy the place until said cricket is found and dispatched. I poked around in the corners, and used my flashlight to see behind file cabinets before I gave up to go back to work.

God forbid a mouse ever find its way in here. We'd probably have to evacuate the building.

UPDATE: The cricket somehow found its way to the men's bathroom. It was quickly and mercifully dispatched via a rapidly descending shoe, and as soon as I can figure out how to mount the little head on a tiny plaque, I'll hang it on my office wall as a trophy of the occasion.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

As The Stomach Churns

'Scuse Me While I Go Throw Up.

Why does this not surprise me?

Lavish tastes of card-carrying lowlifes
Profiteering ghouls have been using debit cards distributed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina - intended to buy essentials for evacuated families - in luxury-goods stores as far away as Atlanta.

"We've seen three of the cards," said a senior employee of the Louis Vuitton store at the Lenox Square Mall in affluent Buckhead, who asked not to be named. "Two I'm certain have purchased; one actually asked if she could use it in the store. This has been since Saturday."

The distinctive white cards were distributed by the Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and carry a value of up to $2,000.

"It doesn't say anything on the card other than alcohol, tobacco and firearms cannot be purchased with it," the store employee told me. "There's nothing legally that prevents us from taking it, unfortunately. Other than morally, it's wrong."

The source told me that the two women who had made purchases with the card each bought a signature monogrammed Louis Vuitton handbag in the $800 range.

"They didn't look destitute by any stretch. You would never have said, 'They must be one of the evacuees.' … The one that I dealt with yesterday was 20. She'll be 21 next month." The source described the reaction of other store-keepers in the mall - which includes luxury brands Ferragamo, Burberry, Judith Leiber and Neiman Marcus - as "outrage."

"It doesn't say anywhere on there, but it would have to be a good amount to be shopping in here," the source said with a dark chuckle.

Please, oh, please, someone justify this purchase to me! Bring in Celine Dion to burble and moan about how these poor people have never had a chance to touch these expensive items, and we should just give them a pass!

Personally, I'd like to see these scumbags forced to eat those bags whole.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Carnival Of Cordite - Double Stuf'd Edition!

Better Go Get A Fresh Cuppa Joe Before You Start!

It's big, it's tasty, it's double-sized for your viewing pleasure!

Go Read!

Friday, September 09, 2005

More Gun Politics

Smith & Wesson's Mea Culpa

Interesting stuff from the folks in Springfield, Mass.

Lured into buying a pig in a poke back in the 90's by the Clinton Collectivist Crew, S&W faced immediate and rancorous grief from gun buyers & 2nd Amendment supporters, and they've not recovered since. In fact, the entire gunmaking operation was bought for pennies on the dollar by a gun trigger lock manufacturer!

Now, it looks like they're trying to win back their customers by admitting they might have erred in judgement back then. Take a look.

From page 14 of S&W's 2005 annual report:
Government settlements have adversely affected our business

We are the only gun manufacturer to enter into settlement agreements with the city of Boston, the Boston Public Health Commission, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, relating to the manner of selling handguns. Adverse publicity regarding the settlement agreements resulted in a boycott by certain of our dealers and customers.

A number of dealers stopped carrying our products altogether, and many long-time customers began purchasing products from our competitors. Our settlement agreement with the Boston autorities was vacated on April 8, 2002, and the HUD settlement is not being enforced. However we are still seeking to recover fully from the consumer boycott.

The settlement agreement dated March 17, 2000 between us, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and HUD has not been formally rescinded. The HUD settlement placed substantial restrictions and obligations on the operation of our business, including restrictions on the design, manufacture, marketing, and distribution of our firearm products. It was subsequently signed by two states and 11 cities and counties.

As of the signing of the HUD settlement, lawsuits had been filed against us by nine of the 11 cities and counties that signed the HUD settlement. Among other terms, the HUD settlement provided that any city or county that was a party to the HUD settlement and had a lawsuit pending against us would dismiss us with prejudice from its lawsuit subject to a consent order. As of August 10, 2005, none of the nine cities and counties that signed the HUD settlement had dismissed us with prejudice from its lawsuit subject to a consent order under the HUD settlement.

We do not believe that the HUD settlement is legally binding for numerous reasons, including that the lack for consideration received by us for entering into the settlement. No assurance can be given, however, that our position that the HUD settlement is not legally binding would ultimately prevail in any subsequent litigation. We have received confirmation that the HUD settlement will not be enforced, but have no indication that the HUD settlement will be formally rescinded. If enforced, these restrictions contained in the HUD Settlement could substantially impair our ability to compete, particularly since none of our competitors are subject to such restrictions.

Personally, I've always liked S&W handguns, and hated the thought of throwing skilled gunmakers out of work due the political suck-uppery of their Eurotrash owners. (Hint #1 for U.S. gunmakers. NEVER sell out to foreigners!!!)

I'd like to see them get out of this useless and politically motivated agreement ASAP. That way, this piece of artwork can go back on the "To Buy" list!

Via rec.guns newsgroup

Uncomfortable Books

No, Not The Kind That Weigh 12 lbs...

I'm about 1/3 of the way into my latest literary acquisition, and it's starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth...

Let me give you a little backstory first. There's this series of books called 'The Legacy of the Aldenata' by a guy named John Ringo. They fall in the realm of Military-themed science fiction, which means if you like guns, mayhem, killing icky aliens by the bucketloads and the occasional bit of humor, you'll eat 'em up. If you're a pinko gun-fearing wussy, you'll likely turn up your nose at them as "fascistic fiction".

The basic premise of the novels is that an ancient race, the Aldenata, have created many minor races, and used them for amusement before splitting the galactic scene for new pastures. Mucho millenia later, the minor races are dealing with the fallout. One nasty & warlike race is spreading like a plague virus, literally eating the competition. The remaining races have formed a confederation to oppose them, but have developed into highly advanced civilizations that can no longer defend themselves, a result of inbred pacifism.

Enter the humans. Technologically speaking, they're at the level of cavemen compared to the Galactics, but they've still got that killer instinct. The Galactics drop in, let humanity know that scary monsters and super creeps are about to arrive and have a global smorgasbord, and by the way, would they like a job?

Galactic technology can rejuvenate older humans, making them about 20 years old biologically and in perfect health, but also retaining their wisdom and memories. In the U.S.A., the decision is made to rejuv all former military personnel, then re-enlist them for the duration of the conflict.

The plus is that you get all those experienced WWII, Korea & Vietnam vets ready and able to fight again. The minus is that the U.S. is not the only country doing that, and this leads me to my issue with the latest book.

It's called 'Watch On The Rhine', and is co-written by Tom Kratman. The plotline here deals with the efforts to beef up Germany's defenses prior to the alien invasion. The Bundeswehr is being sytematically crippled by the government, now largely composed of peaceniks, Greens, and the self-deluded, who still insist that you can negotiate with the carnivorous aliens. (Plot spoiler: Most of these wussy types get eaten early on! Yay!)

Germany is also being hindered by the Galactics. It's a similar situation to a pacifist hiring a bodyguard. Sure, the bodyguard will protect you from the evil critters, but once that threat vanishes, there's nothing but the bodyguard's sense of honor to keep him from taking over the pacifist's house himself. The Galactics, having no sense of honor, only self-preservation, are trying to keep the humans just strong enough to fend off the threat, yet still stay under their thumb post-invasion.

The German chancellor knows the forces at hand are not going to be sufficient, and he knows that there's one last reservoir of WWII Kraut soldiers left that haven't been called up into service. That's right, kiddies, enter the Waffen SS.

I'm not faulting the co-authors for their choice of elite troops to be the ones to add spine to the German army. Any historian worth his salt will tell you that the majority of the Waffen SS divisions were excellent at doing two things, kicking ass and chewing bubblegum, and they rarely had any bubblegum.

OTOH, the deeper I'm getting into this book, the more it resembles a paean to the SS, with vivid descriptions of SS marching songs, flags, uniforms, & insignia. Yes, the authors are quick to denounce racism, Nazism, anti-Semitism, and every other unpalatable -ism in the immediate vicinity, but even with the noble purpose they're being used for in this plot, you just can't wash clean the taint of past history. That Nazi stench just permeates everything.

I like the book, mostly. The authors can certainly tell an exciting story. There's no reason to assume that either Ringo or Kratman have a shrine to Der Fuhrer in their homes. I've read somewhere that "There's a word for those people that assume what an author writes reflects his personal philosophy. That word is Idiot".

Still, all my life I've known people that are attracted to the "dark side". You've known 'em too, I bet. The kid that when you were playing 'Star Wars' really preferred to play the Empire instead of the Rebel Alliance. That creepy guy in the school library who was always rechecking out 'Mein Kampf'. Anyone who's ever said "Hey, at least he made the trains run on time!" These are the folks attracted to the power that an authoritarian political structure offers, and the reason groups like Hitler's SA and the KKK can easily fill their ranks.

I'm not real big on promoting social responsibility, but there's a few ideals I can subscribe to. I don't leave loaded weapons laying around. I don't drive in a reckless manner. I certainly don't think I could write novels romanticizing the enforcement arm of the most evil regime in modern times.

Ultimately it's up to each reader to draw their own conclusions. That's what personal responsibility is all about. Still, I'm pretty set in my ways, and unlikely to have my ideals swayed by a book like this. I've got to wonder what the authors would think about impressionable people starting to idolize the SS as a result of this book, though.

Your thoughts are welcome!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sorry, Donks.

Got Another Whine On Tap?

Looks like the "It's All Chimpy McBushitler's Fault!" storyline is coming apart at the seams.

See for yourself. These aren't conservative papers, either.

Army's engineers spent millions on Louisiana projects labeled as pork.

New Orleans strayed from evacuation plan.

Here's more from admittedly partisan sources.

Another Katrina Myth: Homeland Security Wouldn't Let Red Cross Deliver Food and Water to Katrina Victims

The Machine Stops.

FEMA does need to answer for this bit of dumbassery, though, along with all the other countless screwups.

Nope, the fallout will not be pretty on this debacle, and Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco will be lucky if they can get elected dogcatcher after all is said & done.

Carnival of Comedy Is Up!

Getcher Laffs Here! Free Laffs! Step Right Up!!

The latest Carnival of Comedy is up over at Rapid Politics. I managed to be dubbed 'Hysterical' instead of merely "Mildy Amusing, so I'm just happily wagging my tail over that!

Go have a look & a laugh!

Brought to you by those Mildly Amusing guys at IMAO

No KoolAid Here!

Give Credit Where Credit's Due

Frequent commenter Rorschach was wondering if I'd been drinking of the Magic KoolAid after I posted a favorable message concerning a Democrat.

It's no secret I'm not a fan of the extreme left wing, and that in the past I've blasted Hizzoner for some of his wilder ideas (the SafeTow program, mainly).

Still, he's a good man in a largely thankless job. He's making serious efforts to look for new sources of income for the City's coffers, and while I personally dislike most of the schemes, I'm bright enough to realize that in a budget shortfall, the alternatives are to either cut City services to citizens or cut City personnel.

Mayor White also has a very strong sense of ethics, something lacking from a large percentage of politicians. The corruption that was allowed to flourish under the "Out-Of-Town Brown" administration is slowly being rooted out, and replaced by people committed to doing the job in a legal and moral fashion.

White was also a successful businessman before he went into politics, and that shows in his approach to solving problems. He doesn't set up lengthy commissions to study issues, or hire his cronies as "consulting firms"*, he acts quickly and decisively with the resources at hand. No, the quick solutions don't always succeed, but he's good at adapting his plans as necessary to fit the current situation.

Yeah, he's a Democrat, but he's a old-school Texas Democrat, which ain't all that different from a West/East coast Republican. The minor differences in political philosophies between he & I, I can live with come voting time. I'd much rather have a guy that steps on the occasional toe, but gets things done, as opposed to a person who tries to please everyone, and gets nowhere.

*Yes, I'm aware he hired his buddy David Saperstein as Traffic Czar. That person gets the stupendous sum of $1 a year for his duties. I think I can let that bit of cronyism slide...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yar! Pirate Pics For Ye!

Spiff Up Your Schooner!

There's a nice collection of pirate illustrations at this website, both in black & white and colARRRR!!!!

They're from a book called 'Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates', dating back to pre-WW1. The pics are all public domain now, so no copyright issues exist. (As if a pirate cared about things like that! ARRR!!! Keelhaul the RIAA!!)

Go have yourself a jolly roger of a time!

Link courtesy of Boing Boing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Message From Hizzoner

For A Democrat, He Ain't Half Bad...

September 6, 2005

To All City Employees:

Houstonians have been proud of our response to the victims of Katrina. Our region rose to the challenge of building a temporary city within a city to help folks get back on their feet.

Many City employees have worked heroically during the last week as part of these unprecedented efforts to provide food, clothing, medical care, hygiene, security, and housing for these new residents.

The performance of City employees has been unbelievable, and believe me, the competence and dedication of the City workforce has been noticed by all of the tens of thousands of other Houstonians engaged in the relief effort during the last week, along with thousands of public officials, volunteers and media from outside our region.

I need every single City employee to help in one critical way. Those without direct, assigned responsibilities for Katrina Relief, please do your job at “100%-plus” level. I have made a commitment to the citizens of Houston that we shall not allow our compassion to compromise the quality of services to existing residents of Houston. We are capable of doing this. If you volunteer all night and are too fatigued to undertake your daily tasks, eventually Houston residents will be shortchanged.

I believe there are over 150,000 survivors of Katrina who now live in private homes, hotels, motels and shelters in our region. The number in hotels alone exceeds the population of those residing at the Astrodome. Those within private homes and shelters are even greater still.

Today alone we are moving 1,200 of these residents into permanent apartments and homes. We have already begun this process. We expect that over 10,000 more will be relocated in permanent shelter where they can live with dignity and respect in less than two weeks. A virtual hospital was created at each of the two largest shelters. Each was constructed within 24 hours.

We accomplished this by empowering people to make decisions, and for cutting through red tape to get things done. Can you help me bring this attitude to every single thing we do every day so that our citizens will respect us for being the most efficient, responsive local government in the United States? Can you help me find how we can use the incredible volunteer energy of Houstonians to help each of us as public servants accomplish even more every day without displacing the critical role of fulltime public employees?

Each of us feels a greater pride than just a week ago in saying we work for this Administration in the City of Houston. For those of you, who have direct communications with Houstonians, please let your energy, friendliness, and diligence show through in every interaction we have during this next week. For those who work in operations supporting the front-line providers, please give it your extra effort every day in responding to 911 calls, 311 calls, getting needed paperwork done, finding ways to do more with existing resources.

Today we have established a new umbrella financial relief organization - Houston Katrina Relief Fund - it will be used as the umbrella agency by local civic and public leadership to make sure that reimbursement is received by the organizations that need it most on a timely basis. A bank account has been established at Wells Fargo Bank to accept donations at the following address: Houston Katrina Relief Fund, P.O. Box 4995 Houston, Texas 77210-4995. Additionally, a website, has been established that will be able to accept donations within the next 24-48 hours.

There are five locations where people can register in person with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Those are: Reliant Arena; Reliant Center; Astrodome; 2575 West Bellfort; and the George R. Brown Convention Center beginning September 7th. FEMA is attempting to put together mobile units to do registrations at various locations in town. Those locations and the status of that will be posted on the City’s website. People can also register with FEMA at , and can try telephone registration at 1.800.621.3362.

We also need your eyes and ears in scouting the locations of housing which may be suitable for living for some months for people who have had their shelter destroyed by Katrina. If you identify a location, please report this to the Katrina Housing Task Force at 713-437-6800, fax 713-437-6946, web address: e-mail address: or mailing address P.O. Box 61189, Houston, Texas 77208-1189.

It is my privilege to work with each of you.

Thank you,

Bill White